Newcomers Pt 23
“Karen! KAREN!” Creten screamed her name trying to rouse her, even after they pulled him from the rubble and separated him from her vines “KAREN WAKE UP”
“Shut up” Hopkin shouted throwing him to the ground “You wanted to see this, you wanted to see what war was, well here it is” he pointed at Karen laying there.
“This is war, people die, your friends die and maybe even you will die, war is little more than organised murder of thousands or even millions of people. Look, this is the face of war” Hopkins held Creten facing her, tears were flowing freely as he saw her lay there unmoving. He screamed, she had died saving him, she had a choice to either dig her way out of the rubble or save him and she had chosen him without a second thought.
Hopkins’s grasp on his arm loosened and he ran to Karen’s body and shook her.
“No! Oupa! Oupa wake up!”
Oupa in the Benemar language means mother or second mother considering the context. He shook her crying this name laying his head on her body as if trying to hear her heart come back to life. Hopkins knelt down next to him and Creten swung his arms around him, Hopkins was angry he blamed this child for her death. But he also knew that Karen would not want him to, he like all Humans in the Link had felt her fade, felt her die, she was not afraid except for Creten and even though Sharn had begged her to save herself she refused. Even when her body died her mind had lingered in the Link, bidding her final farewells before her voice was little more than a whisper and then gone completely.
“Creten” Hopkins said and he looked into the eyes of the life that Karen had saved. “If I remember correctly in Benemar culture when one sacrifices their life for another, the survivor become as Polintarin, a spirit carrier and holds the spirit of the life that was sacrificed. Correct?”
Creten wiped his tears away and nodded.
“Then you are a Polintarin and you now carry Karen’s spirit. I can think of none more worhty to do so”
Creten looked into Hopkins eyes again seeing no mockery of their ways or beliefs and once more he wept, he felt a presence behind him and turned to see a Human he did not know looking down at him.
“Is this the one?” she asked.
“Yes” Hopkins said standing and taking a step back.
“I am Sharn, Karen’s wife”
Creten’s eyes widened, did she blame him for her death? Did she want revenge?
He knelt before her and exposed the back of his neck, in Benemar culture this means he was offering his life to her. In fact in Benemar culture Sharn had to right to kill him and release the spirit of Karen from his keeping. But she only stood there, as if deciding what to do. Finally she knelt down before him and raised his head and embraced him like a son.
“Thank you for being with her in her final moments”
Creten returned the embrace “I will try to be a worthy Polintarin for Karen”
“If that is to start you need a better name” she said releasing the embrace.
“But I am a creten, we cannot change our names”
“Well now you hold the spirit of a Human and we can, how about…Ceran”
His eyes widened “Ceran” he whispered over and over again as if he couldn’t believe it.
“You are no longer an unwanted one, Ceran”
The city had been hit and hit hard, fires were still burning all over the city and the Humans were struggling to get them under control, many shelters had to be emptied less they become buried under the collapsed buildings. In a strange turn the local Benemar offered to help fight the fires and were quickly put to work doing so as the Humans could not afford to refuse. The death toll rose continuously as more bodies were found and thousands more were still missing and it would be likely their remains would never be found.
The bombers that had struck the city were intercepted by three separate squadrons on their return journey, these had been out on patrol and were the very ones the bombers had avoided when they made their run. Now they avenged Geeda, only 29 bombers returned and only 11 of their escorts but the High Chiefs celebrated this assault as a major victory.
Jenkins sat in the control tower watching as the numbers came in, not just the survivors but the dead and the now homeless. It would take weeks to re home them all and probably a few more days before the fires were all out. Not only that, they had discovered the bombers target, their warehouses that held their supplies, nearly all had been levelled and nearly nothing was able to be salvaged.
“You have to admire their precision” Cho said “They knew exactly where those warehouses were”
“Yes, levelling most of the city was just a bonus to them, to try and kill as many of our troops and stretch our resources knowing we would help the population” Jenkins agreed feeling angry.
“This now puts us in an awkward position, it will take us months to resupply to the level we were previously”
Jenkins looked at his second in command “Giving our enemy more time to prepare the defences of Potellan and train their troops”
“So what are our options?”
“Well, we can wait till we are resupplied and drag this war out for at least another year maybe even two, or we can attack now and end it tomorrow, but we may loose the war tomorrow”
“Our enemy wants us to attack now, before we were truly ready” Cho stated “And if we do not, he gains the more time he needs to even call in reinforcements from the Alliance”
“Neither option is particularly inviting” Jenkins sat in thought for a long time “I shall speak to Admiral Winston and Captain Kiev to consult on this. The outcome of this war hangs in the balance”
Cho watched him leave so he may speak to them through the Link in private, he turned his attention back to monitor “Who would have thought a single attack could have such massive ramifications”
“Creten!” Oolana screamed running through the crowed as she saw her son and held him in her arms for a few moments before hitting him over the head. “Don’t you ever scare me like that again, you hear me!”
“I’m sorry mother” he said and she held him close once more.
Malthos came running but when he and his son locked eyes he slowed his pace, Selan was with him but she did not have the same reservations and embraced him.
“Creten” Malthos greeted but he did have a slight smile, he was happy he was okay.
“My name is not Creten any more”
“What?” his father shot at him.
“I have been given a new name, Ceran for I am now a Polintarin”
“Who’s spirit do you carry?” Oolana asked.
“Karen’s, you met her a few days ago”
Oolana’s mind went to that day she found him with her in the bar and how Karen had looked at Creten…Ceran with the pride and love usually seen from a mother.
“Well, my son…Ceran carry her spirit well”
“Cretens cannot change their names” his father said rather harshly.
“But Humans can and the spirit I carry is Human” Ceran replied.
Suddenly there was an uproar as people were shouting at a Human standing on a small stage and he was trying to calm them.
“Please be patient, food and relief supplies are on the way” the Human said holding his hands up.
“You are keeping them for yourself!” shouted one.
“You did this to us!”
“You brought war to our world!”
“You tore our world apart!”
People shouted more and more insults and were working themselves into a frenzy, the few Humans that were present moved their hands to their guns in fear of being attacked. Ceran frowned and took to the stage, some thought he was going to attack the Human but he turned to the crowed calling for them to listen to him. Many there had heard him speak before or knew of him so he stole their attention.
“The Humans did not do this to you, it was the High Chiefs, they sent those bombers knowing full well this city was full of Benemar!”
That made them silent and look at each other, they could not help but agree to that.
“Most of you know me, you know me as Creten, but I a Polintarin and hold the spirit of a Human” He went on to recount what he saw of the bombers and the wall of flame and how the Humans fought hard to defend the city and them. And of how Karen had grabbed him without a second thought and sacrificed her life to save his and did so willingly and without pause.
“I am Ceran now and I hold the spirit of Karen with pride and I will make sure I am worthy vessel for her reside in. And I start by saying truly now and without an ounce of hesitation, the High Chiefs are traitors to our race. It was them and those who came before them that choked our air and burned our soil and made us fight in their wars. The Humans are not here to conquer us, they are here to liberate us! The High Chiefs ordered the destruction of their world and the Humans come here to free us from them. Would they have shown the Humans such quarter as they have shown to you?”
The crowed was silent, a few in the back and out of sight of being identified shouted traitor and when Ceran offered them a chance to come and explain their view they shrunk away.
“I stand with the Humans…Will you stand with me?”